Every Man Dies Alone
When I was in my teens I read John Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden, an assigned text that propelled me into studying the Modernists and Modernism generally. You may remember that the key to the novel is the word timshel:
But the Hebrew word, the word timshel — ‘Thou mayest’ — that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open.
It was almost a decade ago that I first read Mark Bracher’s powerful essay “Transference, Desire, and the Ethics of Literary Pedagogy.” At that time I was a fairly fresh post-secondary instructor, beginning my doctoral studies and feeling my way between literary theory and pedagogical theory. In this essay Bracher argues that “transference is ubiquitous in literature classes” (128). From my own experiences in the classroom, as both student and teacher, I cannot dispute Bracher’s assessment.